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The discovery of a single cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) – known familiarly as “mad cow disease” – in California “is not a reason for significant concern on the part of consumers, and there is no reason to believe the beef or milk supply is unsafe,” according to an official for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit health advocacy group that focuses on nutrition and food safety policies.
“If the cow were exposed to the typical strain of BSE via animal feed -- and the government says that’s not the case here -- that would have represented a significant failure,” explained CSPI food safety attorney Sarah Klein, “The government’s ability to track down other cattle that may have been exposed via feed would have been hampered without an effective animal I.D. program.”
Klein continued, however, that the incident should make opponents of a mandatory program of this kind rethink their stance, warning that “[t]he United States has first-world resources and technology, but a third-world animal identification system.”
BSE has proved problematic in such countries as the United Kingdom, and in rare instances has been transmitted to humans who consumed infected beef..